In this slide (9/16) on ABC’s slideshow report on the supposed mishandling of the abuse cases of Father Marcial Maciel, we are told:
Before he became Pope in 2005, Pope Benedict XVI was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, and a top aide to Pope John Paul II. Some of those who accused Father Maciel of molesting them also alleged that Cardinal Ratzinger, who had responsibility for investigating all charges of sexual abuse with the church, attempted to cover up the charges against Maciel when they were brought to his attention in 1998.
This is interesting because in actual fact, Ratzinger was not in charge of investigating all charges of sexual abuse within the church in 1998. That didn’t happen until 2001, when John Paul II published Mot proprio Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela (or SST), which shifted oversight to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith which then-Cardinal Ratzinger headed.
Even before the death of John Paul II Cardinal Ratzinger had begun the investigation of Maciel and the Legion.
According to Archbishop Levada (who now heads the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith):
Here are some of the advances made by this new Church legislation (SST). It has allowed for a streamlined administrative process in arriving at a judgment, thus reserving the more formal process of a canonical trial to more complex cases. This has been of particular advantage in missionary and small dioceses that do not have a strong complement of well-trained canon lawyers. It provides for erecting inter-diocesan tribunals to assist small dioceses. The Congregation has faculties allowing it derogate from the prescription of a crime (statute of limitations) in order to permit justice to be done even for “historical” cases. Moreover, SST has amended canon law in cases of sexual abuse to adjust the age of a minor to 18 to correspond with the civil law in many countries today. It provides a point of reference for bishops and religious superiors to obtain uniform advice about handling priests’ cases. Perhaps most of all, it has designated cases of sexual abuse of minors by clerics as graviora delicta: most grave crimes, like the crimes against the sacraments of Eucharist and Penance perennially assigned to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. This in itself has shown the seriousness with which today’s Church undertakes its responsibility to assist bishops and religious superiors to prevent these crimes from happening in the future, and to punish them when they happen. Here is a legacy of Pope Benedict that greatly facilitates the work of the Congregation which I now have the privilege to lead, to the benefit of the entire Church.
These new measures are the direct work of Cardinal Ratzinger, and the new measures taken to bring accountability and justice to the Church are the direct results of a Pope who takes these matters far more seriously than any of his predecessors.
Sullivan calls the ABC slideshow a ‘powerful reminder’ but I have to wonder how he draws such different lessons from it than I do.